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A Preview of the Layar Roadmap for This Summer 2012

The following is a blog post from Layar's Dirk Groten.

Layar has had an exciting year since the introduction of Layar Vision last summer. Since then, we've made quite a few changes to our app and to the publishing platform. We changed the user interface to focus more on Layar Vision in 6.1 and added AR video in 6.2. We also introduced the Layar Creator, an easy tool to create content for Layar Vision, and we introduced a new app for user-generated AR, Stiktu

We haven't always announced these changes much in advance, leaving our content creators in the dark about our future plans and commitments to them. Let me change this and give you a heads-up about what you can expect from us in the coming months.

Layar 7.0

The next version of the Layar app, Layar 7.0, will solve a number of issues our users are currently having:

  • By separating Vision from Geo (location-based with POIs) layers we can switch off a few sensors when using vision AR. That way you won't be bothered anymore by requests to switch on your GPS or to wave your phone in a figure-eight pattern due to compass interference when just viewing augmented content on top of printed materials.
  • We'll make it clearer to users that there are two sides to our app: Vision and Geo. We'll open up in Vision (scan) mode like in Layar 6.2 but it will be clearer how to find the Geo layers. And we're adding instructions to explain these two modes.
  • We're changing the UI drastically on Android to comply better to the Ice Cream Sandwich UI guidelines (Android 4.x), allowing the app to behave more like a native Android app.
  • There are two API changes in Layar 7.0: In the getPOI request you'll receive all images that were recognized instead of just one, and you can specify actions to share content specifically on Facebook or Twitter.

Let me emphasize that we are committed to continue supporting Geo layers in Layar. We strongly believe that geo-location and location-based content have an important role to play in AR now and in the future.

We will continue adding features for layer developers, both for Geo and Vision AR. When we introduced AR video in Layar 6.2, it was supported for both Vision as well as for Geo layers.

We decided to stop supporting a mix of Vision and Geo in one layer due to the confusing message to end users who didn't understand what to do. It is still possible to link from vision to geo and vice versa by using the layar:// URL scheme (intent) if you still need to mix the two experiences.

Layar 7.0 is scheduled for release in early August.

Support for HTML5 Augments in Layar 7.1

So after Layar 7.0, what's next? HTML content! Our next release after Layar 7.0 will introduce support for HTML augments. You'll be able to create dynamic AR content by using content-type text/html for your AR objects.

This enables a whole bunch of new experiences, where the content viewed in AR is dynamic because it's directly being fetched from the web. Let me list a couple of features we'll support in HTML objects:

  • Full WebKit support of HTML5, CSS and Javascript. Since we're using WebKit to render the content, what you can do in the mobile browser (Safari and Chrome) can also be done in AR. 
  • You'll be able to set the CSS pixel width and height of the HTML augment. The actual size of the augment in AR will be based on the existing 'size' parameter, like for images. 
  • You'll have the choice to enable or disable direct user interaction with the HTML content. When enabled, the content will behave like in a normal browser. For example, if you make a poll the user can click 'yes' or 'no' in AR and directly see the result in AR. When disabled, user clicks are passed to the Layar app and the usual POI actions can be triggered. For example, you can display an up-to-date live score for a tennis match that shows a mobile page in full screen with more information when the user clicks on it.

And again this applies to both Vision and Geo layers. Layar 7.1 is scheduled for release in October. 

Layar Creator

Of course we are committed to continuously improve the Layar Creator and add features that make it even easier to publish AR on print.

  • We will make it easier to add video augments to your print. Due to some technical limitations there are currently a couple of different ways to add video. We'll simplify the flow so you don't have to worry about the technology anymore.
  • We'll add more standard buttons. The email button, for example, was meant to let users share something via email, but didn't allow you to use it for contacting you (pre-filling the recipient email address).
  • Support for HTML in Layar means we can also start adding more dynamic types of buttons in the Layar Creator. 
  • And we're working on a way for publishers to claim exclusivity on their pages, so that you can be assured no one else can 'hijack' your page. This assumes you're the exclusive copyright owner of all artwork on the page of course.

Features in the Layar Creator will be rolled out regularly in small updates, watch our Layar Creator newsletter to be informed about the dates.

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